10 Reasons I Left Software Engineering For Digital Consulting
Should you consider a similar life-changing move?
Three years ago, I was daydreaming during a university lecture (as you do) about my future career aspirations. Where did I want to be in 5, 10 or 20 years? Crafting beautiful products for users? Advising the world’s top executives on corporate strategy? Running my own startup? I wasn’t yet sure.
At the time, I was studying Engineering and had taken a keen interest in designing and developing apps/websites so naturally, I tended to gravitate towards software engineering jobs. I applied to a number of product and developer roles at the hottest tech and financial services firms and was fortunate enough to secure a job at a leading investment bank.
Over the following 9 months, I enjoyed learning about algorithm design, CI/CD pipelines and ETL processes, but something was missing. I didn’t really want to be a software engineer my entire life and after considering other options, I realised that, at this point of my career there could be better learning and career progression opportunities. After a couple of months researching and interviewing, I joined Singulier, an exciting digital consulting business based in London & Paris.
So what were the reasons that led me to quit my software engineering job and enter the world of digital strategy consulting?
1. C-Suite Interaction
During every project, you will be in constant communication with CEOs, COOs, CTOs, CMOs, Partners and Principals etc. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain exposure to a range of perspectives from senior leadership early in your career. Even though you’re there to advise, consulting projects are always filled with learning opportunities which can give you a head start when it comes to taking on leadership roles and climbing up the ranks later in your career.
2. Different Industries & Functions
Over the last three months, I’ve worked on 10+ projects in very different industries (digital fashion, pet care, board games, parental products) focusing on a range of functions from product and marketing to tech. There are very few jobs in the world where you can gain an insight into so many industries and functions in such a short space of time.
3. Working With Data
Data is everywhere these days and is key to unlocking informed and reliable decision making. Most projects involve analysing large amounts of data from a variety of sources (e.g. Google Analytics, 3rd-party benchmarking tools, management meetings, invoices) so you have to become good at identifying pertinent data. If the data is so big that even Excel struggles to open it, you can turn to Python libraries such as Pandas or Dask that help extract and manipulate data.
4. Early Responsibility
Working in a growing business means you’ll have opportunities to take on additional responsibility such as project management and internal development. Compared to traditional corporates where responsibility scales relative to your years of experience, a business like ours allows you to explore new areas and become a go-to person within the firm. Due to my engineering background and experience with Python/Data Science (e.g. my Master’s thesis involved building a ML algo for the Fashion Retail industry), I’ve helped carry out data wrangling and analysis for a number of other projects in parallel with my primary work stream. This has helped hone my coding & data analysis skills further and highlighted me as a reliable go-to resource within the business.
5. Fast Learning Rate
Due to strict deadlines and the rapid nature of work, you will inevitably be expected to pick up new skills/tools and handle topics with no initial knowledge. Before you know it, you will become a master at absorbing new information at lightning-fast speed!
6. High Impact
As a consultant, you’re advising clients on suitable growth levers that will hopefully have a significant impact on a number of key metrics such as add-to-cart conversion rate, average order value and purchase frequency. Your recommended initiatives are likely to have a tangible impact on future roadmap and strategy which is super motivating, particularly when you hear a success story.
With every project, there are some guidelines around project management, approach, analysis, client engagement or output but there’s still a huge opportunity to question the status quo, particularly in a startup. You can think about novel approaches to solving a particular problem or tailoring solutions for a client. This gives you room to ideate, scratch that entrepreneurial itch and improve clients’ perception as someone who delivers tangible, effective and customised solutions instead of generic, high-level advice.
8. Diverse Teams
At Singulier, I’m lucky to work with an intelligent group of people from all walks of life which not only allows us to bring fresh perspectives to projects but also arrive at more unique and universal solutions. Collaborating with UX experts, social media gurus, CRM specialists and other digital consultants on a daily basis helps increase my technical knowledge and teach me about how to adapt my communication style to different audiences.
9. Subsequent Opportunities
With the advanced technical and soft skills developed through fast-paced learning and exposure, consultants have some incredible exit options all the way from leadership roles at large corporates to building their own startup.
10. Personal Development
With so many different projects, clients and tools to manage, you soon become rather adept at responding swiftly, communicating succinctly, managing your time effectively, learning things quickly, becoming more resilient and in managing clients’ expectations. There will be projects where you encounter tight deadlines, unfamiliar tools or numerous data issues but the key is to reflect on what actions and approaches worked and what didn’t.
If you want rapid exposure to a range of industries, organisations and people while working on high-impact, innovative projects with opportunities for early responsibility and personal development, a growing digital consulting business like ours may be the right place for you.
Founded in 2017, Singulier is a digital and innovation consultancy partnering with investment funds and company executives. As a consultant, you will work alongside an amazing team of experts who have extensive experience in a range of fields from Marketing & Media to User Experience, to help clients navigate and operate effectively in the digital world.